While many of us likely think of virtual reality as a three-dimensional environment generated for entertainment purposes, there is a wide array of industries which can greatly benefit from the use of this technology. The fashion industry is one in which virtual reality has not yet been explored to its fullest potential. Although using this technology can result in some innovative applications in the fashion industry, there may also be a few trademark issues that can arise.
Before we delve into some possible branding issues, consider these exciting applications of virtual reality in the fashion industry:
1) Vogue and Google are creating a virtual reality video series. The project will take viewers on a 360-degree tour inside the closest of models, such as Kendall Jenner and Cindy Crawford. This partnership is an opportunity to deliver a new form of familiar content, especially since all eyes are on Vogue to innovate in the fashion industry.
2) Samsung is elevating the experience of New York Fashion Week by introducing virtual reality. A product manager for the brand, Minson Chen, highlights that virtual reality is useful for private fashion events, sharing fashion experiences with everyday customers, and data collection for fashion brands. The idea is that virtual reality can imitate the feeling of sitting in the front row of a fashion show or the joyful activity of walking around and shopping in a store anywhere in the world. So, instead of watching a fashion show in person, attendees can actually use Samsung’s Gear VR Headset to get an intimate experience and a 360-degree view of a fashion show from their couch at home.
Although this virtual reality screening event for Spring 2017 was private, we look forward to seeing how future fashion shows can incorporate virtual reality in order to provide greater access for potential attendees.
3) Virtual reality may also potentially be used as an alternative for shopping in a physical retail store. As customers continue to search for more efficient ways to shop, virtual reality provides a possible solution where a shopper can try on clothes in a virtual setting while still having access to his or her personal closet at home.
These all sound like such unprecedented applications! So, where is the problem?
In order for fashion brands to use virtual reality as a solution, they need to be incorporated in the new tech platform. In a digital environment, there is potential for the unlawful use of fashion brands’ trademarks. With an increase in content, especially over a wide variety of platforms, it can be difficult for brands to track unlawful uses of trademarks and enforce their rights. It is a tricky situation to navigate since third parties have to replicate a designer’s clothing in an animated form and allow consumers to interact with it, which often will result in a sale via this technology.
Something that is even more interesting to consider is what happens when a third party makes a bad replica of a garment that a brand wants to use in a virtual fitting room. Customers may associate this brand with the poor quality of the replica made by a third party, as opposed to just seeing it as an issue with technology.
So, while virtual reality technology is not widely used in the fashion industry just yet, there are some issues that fashion brands need to proactively address. Adding in virtual reality considerations to existing trademark agreements and proactively ensuring quality control on any existing virtual reality platform are a few places where fashion brands can start in order to protect their trademark.
What do you think about the expansion of virtual reality into the fashion industry?